Recursion in prosodic phrasing: evidence from Connemara Irish
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- Elfner, E. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2015) 33: 1169. doi:10.1007/s11049-014-9281-5
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One function of prosodic phrasing is its role in aiding in the recoverability of syntactic structure. In recent years, a growing body of work suggests it is possible to find concrete phonetic and phonological evidence that recursion in syntactic structure is preserved in the prosodic organization of utterances (Ladd 1986, 1988; Kubozono 1989, 1992; Féry and Truckenbrodt 2005; Wagner 2005, 2010; Selkirk 2009, 2011; Ito and Mester 2013; Myrberg 2013). This paper argues that the distribution of phrase-level phrase accents in Connemara Irish provides a new type of evidence in favour of this hypothesis: that, under ideal conditions, syntactic constituents are mapped onto prosodic constituents in a one-to-one fashion, such that information about the nested relationships between syntactic constituents is preserved through the recursion of prosodic domains. Through an empirical investigation of both clausal and nominal constructions, I argue that the distribution of phrasal phrase accents in Connemara Irish can be used as a means of identifying recursive bracketing in prosodic structure.